There has been much rancor, as is usually the case, over the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments regarding the Second Amendment. I have a confession to make to all my liberal activist buddies out there in the blogosphere:
I am a lifetime member of of the National Rifle Association. (There...I said it....I feel so much better!)...
Now, in all honesty, I have not received any material from them (including the monthly issue of the American Rifleman) for more than a decade now. (I got really annoyed with the NRA when they started referring to ATF agents as "jack-booted thugs" during the whole David Koresh thing at Waco in the early 1990s and quit sending in "change of address" notifications whenever we would move. I had just joined the federal service at that time and was not amused with the whole anti-government crowd - they always struck me as bunch of cry babies who thought the rules of a civilized society didn't apply to them. By the way, and for the record: David Koresh was a coward and that bastard should have burned - the full extent of his cowardice was revealed when he took innocents along with him).
My general indifference to being a member of the NRA not withstanding, I still support the concept of the Second Amendment. I believe there is social value in a citizenry that remains mostly armed - it does give governments pause; and I believe it is one of the few things that keeps our form of government uniquely different from others around the world. I think most of the objections to personal ownership of firearms stem from unfamiliarity with dangerous weapons. I grew up with firearms of all kinds and am as comfortable with them as I am with a knife and fork around my Thanksgiving turkey. I made the Expert rating in rifle competition and just missed the Distinguished Expert medal (my college career interrupted my competitive rifle shooting). (So, in reference to my correctional officer debating partner: I have all those skills plus a doctorate...think about that for a moment!). In effect, I am generally in favor of the armed citizen (note: not just the hunting citizen) and am hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of a personal right to own and bear arms (yes, I am also in favor of concealed weapons permits).
Of course, what this means is that I buy into the argument that armed citizens are a deterrent to all kinds of tyranny. The problem is that most members of the NRA probably consider tyranny in the context of "liberal" efforts to regulate the population. Personally, I am more concerned with the potential for tyranny of conservative ideas....more specifically, theological based tyranny. We already seem to have an infestation of Christian soldiers in the military whose allegiance is to mythological beings and not the US constitution. I would suggest that such people might ultimately pose a threat to civil liberties.
I certainly understand the arguments in favor of gun control, but as I have always proposed, let's not limit someone else's freedoms simply because we don't personally agree with it. Instead, use that freedom to your own benefit. Imagine the response if atheists suddenly joined the NRA in droves. Imagine if Muslims, Buddhists and Wiccans joined shooting clubs. And for something really scary:
Imagine if PZ were not just eloquent, educated, atheistic, and outspoken....but also armed!
Of course it will probably never happen, but gee, wouldn't that get the NRA's panties in a twist? Of course I can hear the arguments now: "The Second Amendment was never intended to apply to atheists"....